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Raul Ruiz (politician)

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Raul Ruiz
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byMary Bono (redistricting)
Constituency36th district (2013–2023)
25th district (2023–present)
Personal details
Born (1972-08-25) August 25, 1972 (age 51)
Zacatecas City, Mexico
Political partyDemocratic
Monica Rivers
(m. 2014)
EducationUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BS)
Harvard University (MD, MPP, MPH)
WebsiteHouse website

Raul Ruiz (/rɑːˈl/ rah-OOL; born August 25, 1972) is an American physician and politician serving as the U.S. representative for California's 25th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party.[1]

Born in Zacatecas City, Mexico, Ruiz grew up in Coachella, California. He was the first Latino to receive three graduate degrees from Harvard University, attending Harvard Medical School, the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard School of Public Health. He worked as an emergency physician at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, before assisting humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[2] In what was considered a major upset, Ruiz defeated redistricted incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Mary Bono in the 2012 election with 52.9% of the vote. He was reelected in 2014 with 54.2% of the vote, after what was considered one of the most competitive congressional races in the country; in 2016 and 2018, he received about 60% of the vote.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Ruiz was born in Zacatecas City, and raised in Coachella, California.[4][5][6] His parents were farm workers.[7] He graduated from Coachella Valley High School at age 17 and went to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1990, graduating magna cum laude before attending Harvard Medical School (HMS).[6] He was the first Latino to receive three graduate degrees from Harvard University: a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from HMS, a Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) from the Harvard School of Public Health.[6]

Medical career[edit]

After graduating from Harvard, Ruiz spent time working abroad in Mexico, El Salvador, and Serbia, and completed emergency medicine residency training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2006[8] before taking a job as an emergency physician at the Eisenhower Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital in the Coachella Valley. He founded the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative in 2010. In 2011, he became senior associate dean at the School of Medicine at University of California, Riverside.[6][9]

In 2012, Ruiz received a Commander's Award for Public Service from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division for his humanitarian efforts for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Ruiz ran for the United States House of Representatives in 2012 as a first-time candidate in California's 36th congressional district. The district had previously been the 45th, represented by 15-year incumbent Mary Bono Mack and previously by her late husband Sonny Bono. Ruiz was initially regarded as a long shot to win.[10] He was endorsed by Bill Clinton in October 2012.[10] The new district was significantly more Latino than its predecessor; Latinos now made up almost half its population. Ruiz appealed to them by running Spanish-language ads.[11] He was elected with 52.9% of the vote to Bono Mack's 47.1%.[12]

During the 2012 campaign, Bono Mack "accused Ruiz of being a far-left radical and repeatedly referred to Ruiz's 1997 arrest in Massachusetts while participating in a Thanksgiving Day protest against the treatment of American Indians." She stated that Ruiz "dressed in Aztec warrior colors", had taken part in these Thanksgiving Day protests for six years, and "encouraged people to smash Plymouth Rock." At a debate, Bono Mack asked "Dr. Ruiz, who are you?"[13][14][citation needed]

At an October 2012 press conference, Bono Mack campaign officials released an audiotape on which Ruiz expressed solidarity with convicted police murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal and read a letter of support for Leonard Peltier, who was convicted in 1977 of murdering two FBI agents in South Dakota. On the tape, supposedly recorded at a 1999 Thanksgiving rally, Ruiz read aloud a letter to Peltier from a Marxist leader, "Subcomandante Marcos." It read in part: "Leonard Peltier's most serious crime is that he seeks to rescue in the past, and in his culture, in his roots, the history of his people, the Lakota. And for the powerful, this is a crime, because knowing oneself with history impedes from being tossed around by this absurd machine that is in the system." A spokesman for Ruiz maintained that the candidate did not recall the incident and that he did not support Peltier.[15]

"If the growing sway of Latinos in American politics was the story of election 2012", wrote Politico after the 2012 election, "Raul Ruiz's triumph in California's 36th congressional district was a dramatic subplot." Republicans "didn't seem to fully appreciate the district's fast-growing Hispanic population until it was too late." Ruiz told Politico that his victory was "a reflection of America."[16] Upon taking office in January 2013, he became the first Democrat to represent this district since its creation in 1983 (it had been the 37th from 1983 to 1993, the 44th from 1993 to 2003, and the 45th from 2003 to 2013).


Ruiz competed in the top-two primary on June 3, finishing first with 50.3% of the vote.[17][18] He then faced the Republican nominee, state assemblyman Brian Nestande, in the November 4 general election.[19] Despite being considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent members of the House, Ruiz was reelected with 54.2% of the vote to Nestande's 45.8%.


Ruiz's 2016 campaign focused largely on his successful attempt to secure funds for the Salton Sea Red Hill Bay restoration project and his efforts on behalf of veterans.[20]

Ruiz was elected to a third term in November, receiving 60% of the vote, over Republican state Senator Jeff Stone.[21]

After winning, Ruiz spoke critically about "the politics of fear" and "hateful rhetoric." Addressing his supporters in Rancho Mirage, he said, "I believe that we need to come together as a nation. I believe we need to heal our wounds and put people above partisanship and solutions above ideology."[21]


In October 2017, soap-opera actress Kimberlin Brown, a pro-Trump Republican, announced that she would challenge Ruiz in 2018. Criticizing Ruiz for not passing any "meaningful" legislation, Brown said, "For the first time in the history of our great country, we are not leaving something better behind for the next generation." Brown, known for The Bold and the Beautiful, runs a design firm and has co-managed an avocado farm with her husband.[22]

Ruiz was reelected with 59% of the vote.[23]


Ruiz was reelected, defeating Republican challenger Erin Cruz, an author and a candidate for the United States Senate in 2018,[24] with 60.3% of the vote.[25][26]



In April 2013, Ruiz voted for CISPA, which would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology and manufacturing companies.[27]

Health care[edit]

In May 2013, Ruiz voted against repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[28][29] During his 2012 campaign, he stated his support for the Affordable Care Act.

In 2014, Ruiz voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions 20 or more weeks after fertilization.[30]

In 2017, Ruiz called Obamacare "a giant step in the right direction" while acknowledging that "it is imperfect and needs to be improved." He maintained that the GOP plan would "make premiums and deductibles go up even higher, 24 million will be uninsured...and there will be reduced reimbursement rates to hospitals and doctors for patients on Medicaid...There's nothing to reduce health care costs and out-of-pocket payments." Ruiz said that Obamacare represented "one of the largest improvements in covering Latinos with health insurance."[31]

Syrian refugees[edit]

On November 19, 2015, Ruiz voted for HR 4038, legislation that would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq to the United States.[32]

Committee assignments[edit]

For the 118th Congress:[33]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Ruiz voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time in the 117th Congress, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.[36]


Ruiz has a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and an F rating from the Susan B. Anthony List for his abortion-related voting record.[37][38] He opposed the overturning of Roe v. Wade.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Ruiz is married to Monica Rivers, an emergency room nurse. They married in March 2014 in the Coachella Valley.[40] Their twin daughters were born in March 2015.[41] He is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[42] Ruiz and his family live in Indio.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nocera, Kate (November 18, 2012). "Raul Ruiz win tells story of Election 2012". Politico. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Goad, Ben (November 7, 2012). "Raul Ruiz unseats Mary Bono Mack in upset". Riverside Press-Enterprise. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  3. ^ Freking, Kevin (March 3, 2014). "Congressional freshmen face tough challenges". Washington Times. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  4. ^ Kondracke, Morton (August 25, 1972). "Raul Ruiz, D (Calif.-36)". Roll Call. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  5. ^ Honore, Marcel (September 12, 2012). "A look into Raul Ruiz". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs. Archived from the original on May 27, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Profile Raul Ruiz, first Latino to receive 3 degrees from Harvard". Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "About". Dr. Raul Ruiz for Congress. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  8. ^ Tregaskis, Sharon. "Raul Ruiz Door to Door". Pitt Med magazine. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  9. ^ "Raul Ruiz". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on January 10, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Terlecky, Megan (October 23, 2012). "Fmr Pres. Clinton Endorses Ruiz for Congress". KESQ. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  11. ^ Bergman, Ben (April 23, 2013). "Congressman and physician Raul Ruiz comes home to Palm Springs to treat constituents and patients". KPCC. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  12. ^ "Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.)". Roll Call. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  13. ^ McGinty, Kate (October 23, 2012). "Police officials criticize Ruiz". The Desert Sun. p. B1. Retrieved January 4, 2024.Open access icon
  14. ^ McGinty, Kate (October 23, 2012). "Police". The Desert Sun. p. B4. Retrieved January 4, 2024.Open access icon
  15. ^ Goad, Ben (October 24, 2012). "VIDEO: Police unions question Ruiz's character, past". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  16. ^ Nocera, Kate (November 18, 2012). "Ruiz's win tells story of Election 2012". Politico. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  17. ^ "Statement of Vote" (PDF). Secretary of State's Office. State of California. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 4, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  18. ^ Cahn, Emily (June 4, 2014). "Primary Results: California House Races (Updated)". Roll Call. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  19. ^ Blumenthal, Paul (July 16, 2013). "Vulnerable House Incumbents Raising Big Money For 2014 Races". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  20. ^ Marx, Jesse. "Rep. Raul Ruiz wins reelection to Congress". The Desert Sun. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Jesse Marks (November 9, 2016), "Rep. Raul Ruiz wins reelection to Congress", USA Today
  22. ^ Garcia, Eric (October 11, 2017). "Soap Actress and Trump Surrogate to Challenge Ruiz". Roll Call. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  23. ^ Service, City News (November 8, 2018). "Rep. Raul Ruiz wins 4th term in Congress". KESQ. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  24. ^ "Palm Springs Republican Is 2nd to Launch Recall vs. Gov. Newsom". Times of San Diego. August 6, 2019.
  25. ^ "STATEMENT OF VOTE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY ELECTION MARCH 3, 2020" (PDF). California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 17, 2020. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  26. ^ "November 3, 2020, General Election - United States Representative" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  27. ^ "H R 624". Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  28. ^ Sam Baker (June 11, 2013). "NRCC hits Calif. Dems over ObamaCare rates". The Hill. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  29. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 154". House.gov. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  30. ^ "House Vote 251 - Approves New Abortion Restrictions". New York Times. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  31. ^ Gamboa, Suzanne (March 21, 2017). "Raul Ruiz, Only Latino Doctor in Congress, Troubled By GOP Health Plan". NBC News. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  32. ^ "Inside the Syrian refugee vote: California representatives explain what shaped their votes". Los Angeles Times. November 20, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  33. ^ "Raul Ruiz". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  34. ^ "Members". Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Archived from the original on May 15, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  35. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  36. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron; Wiederkehr, Anna (April 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  37. ^ "Raul Ruiz". SBA Pro-Life America. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  38. ^ "Congressional Record". NARAL Pro-Choice America. June 24, 2022. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  39. ^ @RepRaulRuizMD (June 24, 2022). "Register" (Tweet). Retrieved August 17, 2023 – via Twitter.
  40. ^ Newkirk, Barrett (May 19, 2014). "Congressman Raul Ruiz gets married". The Desert Sun. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  41. ^ Cahn, Emily (March 23, 2015). "Rep. Raul Ruiz Welcomes Twin Girls". Roll Call. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  42. ^ "Meet the Newest Adventist Congressman: Dr. Raul Ruiz". Spectrum. January 4, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  43. ^ "THE CANDIDATES: U.S. House of Representatives, 25th District". caalexico Chronicle. February 29, 2024. Retrieved March 1, 2024.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 36th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 25th congressional district

Preceded by Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by